Despite it all: 10 ideas for a meaningful Seder

Chat with parents about preparations throughout the day, include the kids, coordinate with extended family to hide the Afikoman in the same place, and get dressed up – without going anywhere. Family Seder – 2020.

 -Rakefet Ginsburg –

For many families, the Passover Seder is a rare chance to gather everybody across the generations and all celebrate together. But this year, we have to keep it to a minimum.

A few ways to cope with the new reality:

  1. Keep in touch before the Seder

Maintain a tight connection to parents and family members. Begin preparing for the evening together, including one another in your plans, and give your parents a chance to share their wisdom from experience as much as possible.

It is important to give a sense of importance and meaning in the preparation process. For example, consult with mom about her recipe for matzo ball soup, dad about the horseradish, your sister about choice of dishes and setting the table, discuss the Seder menu and share the process of preparation. Begin basking in the holiday spirit and share those experiences together as much as possible.

  1. Communicate as much as possible on the day of the Seder

Call and update about your preparations, send pictures and videos of the family and kids preparing, working in the kitchen, setting the table. These actions will contribute to a sense of togetherness.

  1. Explain to the kids

Since in the past few weeks we have been explaining to our kids about the situation and that we can’t visit with other people and specifically the elderly, we also have to explain to them that even for the holiday, we cannot physically meet with the family. However, we will use many other alternatives to be together in the Seder. Do not hide the reality from them, and even consult them on what might help them feel close despite the distance.

  1. Include the kids

Encourage the kids to connect to grandma and grandpa from afar in their own ways for the Seder. For younger kids, perhaps in visual ways like leaving a table for them around the table or making a family picture. Offer the kids an idea to make cards for cousins, grandparents and other family members, and make sure to share these throughout the day.

  1. Virtual Seder

If possible – choose a time where everybody meets on Zoom or group call. For example, for a specific portion of the Haggadah. Perhaps during the blessings, with grandpa reading the blessings and everybody answering, giving the youngest kid to sing the Four Questions, or choosing a song to sing all together. This may be quite challenging, but it’s important to remember this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and to try something new.

  1. Set the table

Include the kids in setting the table. Don’t forego tablecloths, flowers, and anything else you normally love on your holiday table. Allow the kids to do this with you and feel part of the Seder experience.

  1. Don’t forego dressing up

We’ve been wearing pajamas for weeks now, so there’s no reason not to feel festive this holiday. Dress up as if you were to leave the house, or host your families. Don’t forego the full festive dress and put in the extra effort for the holiday.

  1. Afikoman

If there are more kids in the extended family, the adults can pre-coordinate where to hide the Afikoman in all homes, and choose a set time for everybody to search. Do this with live cameras, this will give a sense of playing the game together.

  1. Make connections to the Haggadah stories

Remember that Passover is fundamentally symbolic. It’s clear to see how the symbols in the Haggadah are relevant for our coping today as well. You can add additional symbols for coping and family cohesion in these times. You can add symbols specific for this period, like ones representing family cohesion.

  1. Let the kids play

In order to make it easier on the kids, who are already dealing with a new reality, the day can be made into fun play around the symbols of the Haggadah. Crossword puzzles, meaningful pictures, etc. You can encourage the kids to make up their own quizzes about the holiday, family traditions and rituals, and be ready to help them as needed. Share these quizzes with your extended family so everybody can get in the spirit.

You know your kids best, and this is the perfect time to be creative, go along with their ideas, and turn this evening into a real family celebration. After all – that’s the point.

Remember, the guidelines from the Ministry of Health are for yours and your loved ones’ health. Soon, this too shall pass, and so it’s very important to know that you are not alone here. A whole nation, in Israel and abroad, are feeling the same way and celebrating the Seder in new ways. Chag sameach to us all.

The author is a social worker and clinician in NATAL’s Community Resilience Team, assisting victims of anxiety and trauma. Helpline – 1-800-363363